Arent Nicolai Esbensen, Captain (1771 - 1854)

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Nicknames: "Arnt Nikolay Esbensen", "Arent Nicolaj Esbensen", "Arent Esbensen", "Kjøpmann Esbensen"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Vardø, Finnmark, Norway
Death: Died in Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
Occupation: Fiskeeksportør, engelsk konsul og købmand
Managed by: Gerhard Brodtkorb
Last Updated:

About Arent Nicolai Esbensen, Captain

Arent Nicolai Esbensen, Captain, ship owner and merchant.

He was born on November 16, 1771 in Vardø, to Andreas Esbensen and Henrica Esbensen.

Arent's father Andreas Esbensen, was an ambitious merchant who had come from Copenhagen to make his fortune in Norway and in 1782 he was promoted to the position of merchant for Kjollefjord and Tana with the Den Kongelige Grønlandske Handel (Royal Greenland Trading Company) which had a trade monopoly for Finnmark. A position that he was able to use in getting his son Arent hired thus beginning his apprenticeship in the trading business. By 1786 the merchant, Mr. O.N. Giorup, had gone bankrupt so Arent went with his father who took over as merchant for Vardø. This was a great stroke of luck for the family as they set up a joint trading company with Christian Hvistendahl called Esbensen & Hvistendahl. During this time the towns of Vardø and Vadsø where being brought closer together administratively and when the Royal Greenland Trading Company decided to sell their possessions and right to trade, Esbensen & Hvistendahl bought everything at auction thus giving the company sole trading rights and a monopoly in both towns. The Esbensen & Hvistendahl co-founder Christian Hvistendahl died childless and so gave everything to Andreas Esbensen.

Arent worked with his father until Andreas died in 1808 whereby he became sole proprietor of Esbensen & Hvistendahl making him the richest man in Finnmark. Due to a lack of interest in Vadsø from Copenhagen many viewed North Russia as Finnmark's window to the outside world, so during the winter of 1810-11, Arent took the initiative in establishing a postal route from Vadsø over Kola to Archangel, with possibilities for continuation from there. He was still the official post master so all this had to be done in total secrecy. He also set up a coastal militia of which he was made Captain.

The census for 1815 shows Arent on the township commission which was made up of the sheriff, parish priest and his electors. In 1818, permission was granted for him to start seine fishing in Varangerfjord on a trial basis for two years. The effort ended when the fishermen in Vadsø destroyed the nets.

His children who were now quickly growing up were sent to Copenhagen for further studies and to be in better society as per their social standing. They stayed with their Danish family relations but we have yet to find out who they were. Arent’s house was described by one visitor as, “a castle of wood amongst a hundred shacks”. When travellers arrived, they were welcomed with cannon shots, and sometimes by rifle salutes. In the main living room, the walls were covered with paintings of the company’s ships and vessels, both from the past and the present. A special treasure was a icon of the patron saint of sailors, St. Nicholas from the 14th century, which was on a gold base with buildings in the background. He said that the icon had been passed down through several generations of the family. A rich Russian supposedly offered him a great sum to purchase it but the offer was refused, and instead he put the valuable object inside a cabinet with a glass top to protect his precious icon from any tobacco smoke in the room.

Arent’s wife Anna Margrethe Esbensen (Galberg) worked in the midwife movement. She was also appointed one of the three vaccinators for Finnmark in 1827, when the government wanted to vaccinate everyone against the small pox. She was in charge of vaccinating the population of Vadsø.

Together with Arent, they had seven children.

Wife: Anna Margrethe Esbensen (Galberg)

Children

  1. Rasmus Fridrik Esbensen - 10 Oct 1798 - Vadsø
  2. Hendrike Kirstine Esbensen - 1 Jul 1800 - Vadsø
  3. Andreas Esbensen - 3 Oct 1802 - Vadsø
  4. Mariane Sophia Esbensen - 21 Aug 1804 - Vadsø
  5. Ane Kirstine Esbensen - 11 Aug 1806 - Vadsø
  6. Hans Petter Esbensen - 27 Apr 1808 - Vadsø
  7. Rasmus Fredrich Esbensen - 3 Jun 1812 - Vadsø

Sources

Parish register

  • Birth and baptism records 1769-1773, Finnmark county, Vardø, Parish register (official) nr. 1 (1769-1804), page 60-61: Arent Nicolai Esbensen - 16 Nov 1771 - Vardø
  
  
  • Birth and baptism records 1798, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 156-157: Rasmus Fridrik Esbensen (Son) 10 Oct 1798 - Vadsø
     
  • Birth and baptism records 1800, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 166-167: Hendrike Kirstine Esbensen (Daughter)
  
  • Birth and baptism records 1802, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 174: Andreas Esbensen (Son)
  
  • Birth and baptism records 1804, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 182-183: Mariane Sophie Esbensen (Daughter)
  
  • Birth and baptism records 1806, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 192-193: Ane Kirstine Esbensen (Daughter)
  
  • Birth and baptism records 1808, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 204: Hans Petter Esbensen (Son)
  
  • Birth and baptism records 1812, Finnmark county, Vadsø in Vadsø, Parish register (official) nr. 2 (1764-1821), page 224-225: Rasmus Fredrich Esbensen (Son)
  
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Arent Nicolai Esbensen, Captain's Timeline

1771
November 16, 1771
Vardø, Finnmark, Norway


Arent Nicolai Esbensen's birth was recorded in the Vardø church book on the 16th of November 1771. His parents Andreas and Herika Esbensen are mentioned along with Tomas Jacobous, Rasmus Holders?, Anders Persen?, Idee Ecklef?, Madame Mogensen?.

1797
February 15, 1797
Age 25
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
1798
October 10, 1798
Age 26
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
1800
July 1, 1800
Age 28
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
1802
October 3, 1802
Age 30
Vadso, Finnmark, Norway
1804
August 21, 1804
Age 32
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
1806
November 8, 1806
Age 34
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
1808
April 27, 1808
Age 36
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway
1812
June 3, 1812
Age 40
Vadsø, Finnmark, Norway